Written by: James W. Huston Published: January 24, 2012
I have read most of Hemingwayâ€™s fiction.Â Not all of it, but most of it.Â I love his writing.Â At its best it may be the best writing in America in the 20th Century.Â But even though I have read most of his writing I didnâ€™t know that much about him as a person.Â I knew the public persona, the tough guy big-game-hunting Cuba and Key West living drinking ambulance driving fisherman. Â But I had never read a biography of him.Â Still havenâ€™t.Â I did though just finish Hemingwayâ€™s Boat, Everything He Loved And Lost, 1934-1961, by Paul Hendrickson.Â I now have that difficult tension with Hemingway that I have encountered with some other great writers or musicians; great works do not necessarily come from great people.
Hendricksonâ€™s book does not claim to be a biography. It is a recounting of certain stories, attitudes, letters, and damage, relatedâ€”some directly, some very very indirectlyâ€”to the 1934 custom boat Hemingway bought and took to Florida and then Cuba (where it still sits on blocks).Â It tells of the friends and guests Hemingway took to sea with him, almost always to fish for marlin.Â It tells of how he mistreated almost everyone in his world, including his â€śfriendsâ€ť from his impoverished days in Paris struggling to establish himself as a writer, to his wives, sons, and editors.Â He was the trail blazer for so many Hollywood personalities of today, who have no lines and no rules, and literally do whatever they like, regardless of the impact it has on others.Â The poster boy of narcissism.